1. Parliamentary Papers relative to
the Mutinies in the East Indies, presented to the House of
2. Modern India and its
Government. By George Campbell, Esq., B.C.S. 2nd edit.
3. The Mutiny of the Bengal
Army. By one who has served under Sir Charles Napier. London,
4. The present Crisis in
India. By the author of 'Our Northwest Frontier.' London,
5. The Crisis of India; its
Causes and proposed Remedies. By a Military Officer of Thirty-
one Years' Experience in India.
6. A few Remarks on the Bengal
Army. By a Bombay Officer. Bombay, 1857.
7. India; its history,
Climate, and Productions. By J. H. Stocqueler. 1857.
8. The Land of the
Veda. By the Rev. Peter Perceval. 1854.
9. Complete Narrative of the
Mutiny in India. By Thomas Frost, Esq. 1857.
10. Defects, Civil and Military,
of the Indian Government. By Sir Charles Napier. Edited by
Lieut.-General Sir William Napier. 1853.
11. Cursory View of the Present
Crisis in India. By General Sir Robert Gardiner, K.C.B., Royal
Artillery. London, 1857.
12. Journal through the Upper
Provinces of India. By Bishop Heber. 2 vols. 1844.
13. Dacoitee in Excelsis, or the
Spoliation of Oude. London, 1857.
14. Speech on a Motion of
Inquiry in the House of Commons, June 11, 1857. By the Hon. A.
Kinnaird. London, 1857.
15. The Way to lose
India. By Malcolm Lewin, Esq. London, 1857.
16. The Rebellion in India; how
to prevent another. By John Bruce Norton. London, 1857.
17. The Commerce, Resources, and Prospects of India. By Macleod Wylie, Esq. London, 1857.
WITH the terrible details of the Bengal Mutiny so fresh before us, its occurrences rather news than history, its issue though certain yet incomplete; with the blood of our countrymen not yet dry, and the cries of our countrywomen still ringing in our ears, it is hard to write calmly of an 'event which must ever be numbered among the most appalling atrocities in the annals not only of Britain but of the world. There is no longer any fear, at least for the present, that our proverbial apathy on Indian affairs will prevail; and we may rely on the strong sense and the sound heart of the British people for taking a far deeper interest in the miseries and indignities to which our brethren in the East have been subjected, than ever was given to their most glorious victories, or to the widest extension of our power. It may be among the blessings which already seem to be arising from this fearful trial, that our eyes shall never for the future be blind to the enormous responsibilities and interests which our Indian empire entails. If we are to continue to call 150 millions of men our fellow-subjects, India must no longer be viewed with the indifference with which both government and people of England have hitherto regarded it. It cannot for the future be to us a mere commercial mart, a provision for the cadets of our middle classes, a resource for superannuated generals or impoverished nobility, a thing of the city, of a clique, of a department; it must become an integral part of our Home Government, and the full power of national intelligence and opinion must be brought to bear upon its interests and resources.
Suddenly as this calamity has come upon us in England, it now turns out that the disaffection and insubordination of the Bengal army has long been suspected and connived at. From time to time the great minds that had been brought in contact with the system have not hesitated to tell the truth and give the warning; but the cry had been raised so often that it was at last disregarded, and England, always so ignorant of Indian affairs, has awakened to the fact, which is now undeniable, that mutiny, more or less open, has been for years past the normal condition of the Bengal sepoy. With the light of the late fearful eruption to read the past, it is clear that no recent act on our part was the origin of the mischief. The cause is to be found in our own too great security and forbearance. Our past military system in Bengal has been one of continued concession, fatal enough often in European states, but regarded by an Oriental only as a sign of weakness; and if the natives misunderstood the cause of our leniency in the first instance, our own perseverance in the same course made them right enough at last in their interpretation of it. Temporising at first in the very recklessness of security, we have at length been driven to it by fear. The subtle sepoy was acute enough to detect the difference.
The mutiny and massacre of Vellore, in the presidency of Madras, as far back as 1806, might have shown us the nature of the men with whom we had to deal. 'That,' said Mr. Marsh, in the House of Commons of that period, 'was, in the strictest sense of the expression, a religious mutiny. It originated in the belief. artfully instilled by the emissaries of the Mussulman princes into the minds of the sepoys, that the British Government intended to convert them gradually to Christianity.' Then, it was an innovation in dress and a direct aggression on their marks of caste; but then, too, it was a subornation of the Hindoo by the Mussulman; and the premature outbreak at the garrison of Vellore prevented at the time the success of the widespread plot for the extermination of the Feringhee in India. The history of India will supply many other links in the same chain; but it will be enough to notice those instances in more recent times when it had become evident that the old spirit of loyalty in the sepoy had passed away, and the alleged grievance was only made a cloak for the feeling that he had become his own master, and could dictate his own terms. When in 1835 Lord William Bentinck, outrunning reform at home, abolished flogging in the Indian army, the first sop was given, and from that time the insolent feeling of the men was only more increased, and several regiments were obliged to be disbanded for insubordination. In 1844 several of the Bengal Native regiments, when ordered for service in Scinde after its annexation, refused to march, on the ground of its being foreign service. All ultimately gave way, except the 34th Native infantry, which was ignominiously disbanded at Meerut by Lord Ellenborough, in the presence of the whole of the troops of the station.
Many premonitory symptoms, which at the time were little noticed, and are now almost forgotten in consequence of the more stirring events which have since occurred, are yet most important to be remembered both for present remedy and future prevention. In July, 1849, Sir Colin Campbell, then serving under Sir Charles Napier, wrote to his chief that the 22nd Bengal Native infantry had refused to receive the diminished pay, which had been ordered by the Governor- General on the annexation of the Punjaub, as the reduction from field to cantonment allowance. Of the perfect justness of the measure there cannot be a doubt; and it was so regular a course, that none but men determined on encroachment would have failed to acquiesce in it. At Christmas, a further stand was made by the sepoys with reference to the withholding of increased pay on the rise of provisions; but the state of the recently-conquered Punjaub, where the 22nd now were, was perilous; and Sir Charles suspended the order for the reduced allowances, and gave one inch more, which the thankless sepoy sullenly accepted. This was no isolated case. A secret correspondence was detected between the 22nd and 13th and other disaffected regiments, and Brahminical influence was known to be at the root of it. Forty-two regiments were stated by Sir Charles to be in secret communication with the 22nd on the question of the reduced pay. One Brahmin uttered the threat to his officer that they could stop enlistment. At Delhi, always the centre of villany and intrigue, the population showed a rebellious spirit. Some regiments declined to take their regular furlough. The 32nd refused their pay; five mutineers were tried by court-martial, and sentenced to fourteen years' imprisonment. Sir Charles ordered the reversal of the too lenient sentence, and eventually the finding of 'Death' was commuted to transportation for life. On his return from Peshawur the 66th were reported to him in open mutiny. They were then quartered at Govindghur, the strongest fortress in the Punjaub. The commanding officer had punished a man who had attempted to seize the arms of the regiment, and on his appearing on parade was received with a shout of disapprobation. Fortunately the 1st Native cavalry were encamped outside the wails, and Captain Macdonald, hearing a disturbance, rushed at the head of his troop with naked sword on the mutineers just in time to prevent their closing the gates of the fort. More open mutiny there could not be. Sir Walter Gilbert awarded the ringleaders the inadequate punishment of fourteen years' imprisonment, and Sir Charles Napier determined to disband the regiment. With great foresight some months before (October, 1849) he had obtained the Governor-General's sanction to take a regiment of Goorkas into pay, and had promised them the Company's uniform and rupees on the earliest opportunity. This had now arrived. The Goorkas are a wild people from the hills of Nepaul, short, broad, and muscular, leading a merry, careless life, heedless of caste, despising the sepoy, and game to the backbone. These were the very men for Napier. They were drawn up opposite the 66th, who were then told to pile their arms and give up their colours. They obeyed. The Goorkas were told that the arms and colours were theirs, and with shouts of joy and enthusiasm they took them up and entered the Company's service — the first-fruits of a new order of recruits, of which many, it may be hoped, will follow. No one will now question the genius which prompted Sir Charles to substitute the Goorkas for the mutinous 66th; or will sympathise with Lord Dalhousie in his expression of regret that the Commander-in-Chief had acted on his own responsibility in the matter.
The mutinous spirit was scotched not killed. In 1852 the 38th were required to proceed to Burmah. They objected to the sea-voyage and refused to march. The authorities acquiesced, and another point of Praetorian aggression was gained. The ordinary lull succeeded; the evil day was yet a great way off, and officials congratulated one another that things had passed off so quietly. In 1856 took place the momentous event of the annexation of Oude, which was the great recruiting ground of our army. Thither also the pensioned veterans returned to settle in their own homes, where in the complete anarchy of the civil power they enjoyed all the license which a retired mercenary knows so well how to command. In March, 1856, the Marquis of Dalhousie, ill-informed to all appearance as to the state of the army, left India, apparently in a more settled prosperity and more hopeful career of progress than at any period since the first British merchant set his foot on the shores of the peninsula. Little did men think what was lurking under this smooth and smiling surface. Lord Dalhousie's successor was known to be a man of the same school, and was thought to be well fitted for the comparatively easy task of building on peaceful foundations. In the midst of this fancied security came the introduction of the greased cartridges, rendered necessary by the adoption of the new Enfield rifle. They were served at first without comment or observation but very soon a murmur of dissatisfaction was heard. It was reported that a low caste classie, a Lascar employed in the cartridge magazine, had one day asked a. Brahmin sepoy to give him some water from his lotah (water-bottle); the sepoy haughtily refused, saying that the classie could not be aware of what caste he was. 'Ah!' was the immediate rejoinder, 'You will lose your caste ere long, for you will have to bite cartridges covered with the fat of pigs and cows — the cow being, as is well known, sacred to the Hindoos; the swine unclean to the Hindoos and Mahomedans alike. This was in the middle of January of the present year. The men were assured that the composition used was nothing but mutton-fat and wax, but this did not satisfy the sepoys, who, in a manner perfectly respectful, begged to suggest that they should be allowed to purchase oil and wax in bazaar, and prepare the cartridges themselves. The Parliamentary papers show that an inquiry was at once made, and an order given that the cartridges at least for practice should be issued without grease, but the question of the general issue was reserved to the Government, it being doubtful whether, though answering for practice, the ungreased ammunition would be efficient for service. With regard to the alleged nature of the grease, a special court of inquiry held under Colonel Wheeler: several sepoys were themselves examined, the obnoxious paper was burnt before the court, the objectors were asked if they could detect the offensive smell which they pretended to have found; a chemical analysis was also instituted, and they owned that their suspicions were refuted but not removed. Driven from the grease, they now objected to the paper; it was 'different from the old cartridge paper;' it was 'of two kinds,' 'of two colours.' Such quibbling as this should at once have convinced the military authorities that more was intended than met the ear. And now other signs appeared; at the very hour when the Court was sitting, information was given by a sepoy of the intention of the men to rise against their officers and seize on Fort William. That same night the Electric Telegraph Station at Barrackpore was wilfully burnt down. On the 11th of February, General Hearsey, commanding the Presidency division, writes: 'We are dwelling on a mine ready for explosion' — the very words which Sir Colin Campbell used eight years before — 'we are sitting on a mine that may explode at any moment.' But Hearsey had no power to act from the want of European troops to support him. There was not an English soldier within the Calcutta division. The troops drawn from India for the Crimea had not yet been replaced! A plan was next proposed and allowed of using the cartridges without biting. But palliatives were now worse than useless. The plague had begun.
It is remarkable that the first open acts occurred in lower Bengal, in the immediate vicinity of Calcutta. The sepoys seem to have wished to feel the pulse nearest the heart of government. Dum-Dum, Barrackpore, and Berhampore, are respectively 8, 16, and 118 miles from Fort William; and here the evil spirit first showed itself; but the authorities, though unsuspicious of its extent, were yet on the alert, and no local circumstances favoured a general rising.
On the 24th of February the 34th Native infantry arrived at Berhampore, and were feasted by the 19th Native infantry, who hearing from the new comers the bazaar reports of the cartridges, refused to use even those of the old stores — one step more gained. The Bombay sepoys keep their arms with them in their huts, as in our Queen's service. Those of Bengal and Madras deposit them in circular brick buildings called Bells, which are kept locked in front of the lines. On the night of the 25th the sepoys of the 19th Native infantry rushed to these bells, broke them open, seized their arms, and waited drawn up in front of their lines. Colonel Mitchell with a detachment of Native cavalry and Native artillery marched down upon them. The mutineers promised to lay down their arms if the cavalry and artillery were withdrawn. The concession was made, and the 19th kept their word. It was well, from what we have since learnt, that the crisis passed off so quietly. But here was a further encroachment — any cartridges might be refused, and the mutineers could dictate time terms of their submission.
There were other signs of the times, but there were none to read them. At the end of February an officer reports to the superintendant of the Saugor district the following circumstance. A chówkedar (policeman) comes to the derógah (head-police) of a village, brings him six chepatties — they are cakes two inches in diameter of unleavened atta, or Indian corn bread, the ordinary bread of the sepoys — and says, You will make six others, and pass them on to the next village, and tell the headman there to do the same. The policeman obeys, accepts the cakes, makes six others and passes them on to the headman of the next village with the same message. No one knows whence they come or what they mean, but in an incredibly small space of time the mysterious chepatties have made the round of the whole of the North- West provinces. The authorities were assured that no harm was meant, and the newspapers made a joke of it.
March opened with a still more formidable aspect. Reports came in of a fanatic Moulvie, a high Mahomedan priest, preaching war against the infidels in Oude, and proclamations were found upon him exciting the people against British rule; but it was an isolated case, and Sir Henry Lawrence was there. The Calcutta papers wrote at this time that 'in the present state of the army the most trivial accident may in a moment produce the most serious results.' A hint of the connivance of the ex-king of Oude was thrown out, but the 'king's friends are most indignant at the calumny.' On the l0th of March two sepoys were detected trying to bring over the guard of the Calcutta Mint. Other conspiracies were reported. In the meanwhile a European regiment arrived at Calcutta. It was despatched to Barrackpore, and now was the time for taking the mutinous 19th in hand. They were marched down from Berhampore, and on the 30th of March disbanded, without disturbance, on the parade ground of Barrackpore. The mutineers, however, were 'not to be turned out with ignominy,' nor the 19th to be erased from the list. The men showed great appearance of contrition, and the brigadier himself was evidently affected. It is easy now to criticise the past; but it must be owned that neither milder nor harsher measures would then have been of any avail.
On the very eve of the disbandment a serious affray occurred. A sepoy in open day on parade fired first at the serjeant-major and next at his adjutant, Lieut. Baugh, whom he missed, but whose horse fell from the shot; the man then, calling upon those who had sent him to come and help him, rushed on both with his drawn sword and wounded them. The determined front of General Hearsey, who now appeared on the ground, quelled those who seemed prepared to follow; but one jemadar (lieutenant) refused to advance his men, and some even hustled and struck the officers attacked. A single sepoy, Sheik Phultoo, went to the rescue. He was immediately promoted by General Hearsey to the rank of havildar (serjeant) and the order of merit asked for him. A dry assent came from Government, reminding the General that the promotion was irregular without the sanction of the Governor-General in Council, and that the recommendation for the order of merit would come before the Governor-General in the ordinary way through the Commander-in-Chief. The formal sanction did not arrive till the 16th of April! At this very time the 63rd Native infantry at Sooree declined to accept their furlough in the usual routine, and it was discovered that the 34th had been at work among them. The names of fourteen of these 'passive mutineers' were sent up to Government for dismissal, but, as they expressed sorrow, their summary dismissal was refused. The mutinous sepoy of the 34th was tried and hung; but the Governor-General thought it better to avoid giving notoriety to the crime, and objected to his condition being termed 'religious frenzy.' On April 15th a special court of inquiry sat as to the condition of the 34th regiment. Such was the infatuation of the officers, that, with the occurrences of March 29th before them, two out of the number came forward to attest the good feeling and loyalty of the corps. It was proved, however, that, as early as May, 1856, they had shown symptoms of disrespect to their officers — not saluting them, and on one occasion not helping them in the boats when they were in danger on the river. This, however, appeared to be confined to the Hindoos; so the court reported that the Hindoos of the 34th were not trustworthy, but that the Sikhs and Mahomedans were. The Governor-General wrote that he could not allow such a distinction of creeds to be made, and ordered the disbandment of the whole regiment.
April passed away in comparative calm. On the 20th the jemadar of the 34th who refused assistance to Lieut. Baugh was hung. He expressed penitence in his dying speech, and exhorted his comrades to obey their officers, to listen to them, and not to evil advisers. The example was fairly thought to have produced its intended effect, and the restoration of a better feeling among the Native troops was confidently asserted.
With May came reports of further incendiarism, and the newly- annexed province of Oude showed symptoms of avowed mutiny in its capital Lucknow. A doctor in the hospital by a sepoy's bedside had put the bottle of medicine to his mouth before giving it to his patient. Here was a new slur on caste, and such an outcry was made that a pundit was sent for to break the bottle and exorcise the evil; but the doctor's bungalow was burnt down that very night. On the 2nd of May, a few days after, the 7th Oude regiment refused to bite the cartridges, and on the 3rd broke out into open mutiny. Sir Henry Lawrence, by the aid of her Majesty's 32nd and the remainder of the Native troops which still remained firm, promptly suppressed the outbreak, and all was quiet again. It is curious but lamentable now to read the pottering minutes — minute upon minute — of the council board on Lawrence's first report of his proceedings (Parl. Pap., p. 210); but the Governor-General on the whole sustained him well, and as times grew hotter soon flashed through the electric telegraph his entire and hearty support. On May 6th, the 34th regiment, which had shown such mutinous conduct on the 29th of March, was disbanded at Barrackpore. Five weeks had elapsed between their crime and its punishment, and the leniency and delay, whatever was the cause, were deemed at the time to show a most unfortunate want of energy in the Government. At Lucknow a treasonable letter had been addressed to a sepoy of the 48th, who at once brought it to his superior Native officer, by whom the bearers of it were seized. On the 13th Sir Henry Lawrence held a grand military durbar to reward these men for their loyal service. Carpets were spread on the lawn in front of the residency at Lucknow, sofas were placed for all the civil and military authorities of the station, trays of presents, after eastern fashion, sabres, shawls, chogahs, embroidered cloth, turbans were displayed before the whole of the regiments, and to each of the three men were given promotion on the spot and 300 rupees in hand. Henry Lawrence addressed them in Hindostani in an eloquent speech. 'Take these sums of money,' he concluded, 'for your families and relatives, wear these robes of honour at your homes and at your festivals, and may the bright example which you have so conspicuously set, find, as it doubtless will, followers in every regiment and company in the army.' While the Commissioner of Oude was thus labouring to calm by his personal influence his own disaffected district, a terrible storm had already burst in another quarter.
The scene now shifts to the North-Western provinces. High to the northward, from the sanatorium among the hills at Simla, the commander- in-chief was telegraphing down his confirmation of the sentences of the court-martials, and the Lieut.-Governor, Mr. Colvin at Agra, was occupied in his usual active routine of administration; the old princely city of Delhi was slumbering under the protection of its Native troops — when at Meerut, forty miles to the north-east, the terrible flare of the smouldering fire burst fully out. An uneasy feeling of suspicion was abroad, but railway engineers were surveying in the neighbourhood, and an English painter was on the spot peacefully gathering subjects for his portfolio. In the end of April a squad of artillery recruits at Meerut had objected to the cartridges even of the old form, and had instantly been dismissed; a punishment which General Anson, now awake to the danger, had censured as inadequate to the offence. An opportunity for greater severity soon presented itself. Eighty-five men of the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry out of a company of ninety had openly refused to use the cartridges, and, sentenced to imprisonment, for spaces varying from six to ten years, were now in irons in the jail of Meerut. The sullenness and disaffection of their comrades were visibly increased, and incendiary fires, enough it might be supposed to have put the European force on the alert, were nightly occurring.
On Sunday, the 10th of May, the morning services of the church had been attended as usual by the European men and officers, and many were again preparing for evening prayer; when suddenly a signal was given that the Native troops were in open mutiny. Colonel Finnis of the 11th Bengal Native infantry, a fine soldier, beloved and respected by all, immediately rode to the parade and commenced haranguing his men. They seemed moved by his address, but at that moment a shot from the ranks of the 20th, who had now just arrived on the ground, struck his horse; and that shot decided the fate of the day. Another and another followed, and he fell riddled with balls — the first victim, out of hundreds, of the infatuated confidence of the officers in the loyalty of their native men. All discipline was now at an end; but the frenzy of rebellion had not yet reached its height, and the sepoys of the 11th, with a lingering feeling of regard, allowed their officers to escape with their lives. The reign of mercy was but short. The 3rd Light Cavalry, who had meanwhile ridden to the jail, and by the aid of a native smith had knocked off their comrades' irons, returned bringing in their rear upwards of a thousand other prisoners maddened with their unexpected liberty. English ladies were abroad driving about in their carriages, civilians in their buggies, ayahs with the children were taking their evening stroll, when the yells and shots of the mutineers suddenly burst upon them. In a moment the barracks and the thatched bungalows were fired, and each officer as he made his appearance was shot down at his door. And now ensued a scene of indiscriminate violence, the particulars of which we forbear to repeat. 'These details,' said Burke, with the true instincts at a noble heart, when speaking of the atrocities perpetrated by Hyder Ali, 'are of a species of horror so nauseous and disgusting; they are so degrading to the sufferers and to the hearers; they are so humiliating to human nature itself, that, on better thoughts, I find it more advisable to throw a pall over this hideous object and to leave it to your general conception.'
No station in India was so well supplied with European soldiers. They considerably outnumbered the Native troops. In other places it might be good policy for fear to wear the cloak of moderation; but here the real power was with the British force. It is singular indeed that the sepoys should have dared to select a station garrisoned like Meerut for their first desperate defiance. But they must have known their host and reckoned accordingly. Melancholy it is to read the account of the delays, the purposeless wanderings, the aimless firings into woods and thickets, of the English soldiers on that eventful night, when, hearing that the body of mutineers had set off for Delhi, they blindly affected to pursue them.</p>
<p> To the Englishman Calcutta is the capital of India; but to the Native the modern 'city of palaces' is a mere gourd's growth of commerce and aggression. All his thoughts of kingly rule and government centre in the proud fortresses of Delhi, close to whose walls still exist pillars carved with readable inscriptions of a date 325 B.C. , and with others in strange characters beyond the memory or the ken of man. It is a city not of one creed or of one dynasty. Budhist, Brahmin, and Mussulman monuments are grouped or ruined together; Hindoo, Afghan, Rajpoot, Tartar, Mogul, Persian, Mahratta, Rohilla: each has his historical association here. For eight miles to the south of the present city, on an arid plain, along the banks of a brackish and unnavigable river, lie, in the belief of the native, the ruins of five thousand years.1Foundations and fragments of gates, caravanserais, mosques, mausoleums, in red sandstone and white marble, old forts of shahs of varied race and creed, blinded, mutilated, poisoned, assassinated, and dethroned — 'who built like giants and furnished their work like jewellers' — are mingled with the tombs and gardens of their favourite wives and daughters; and these ruins in the merry days of modern Delhi furnished the object and the scene for the jaunts and pic-nics of the British residents. The walls of the existing city are seven miles in circuit; and here resided in the palace of his ancestors, on a pension of 80,000 rupees a-month paid by the British Government, Bahader Shah, the representative of the great Mogul dynasty, which once held the whole peninsula under sovereign sway. Hindoo and Mussulman alike still looked up to him as the real source of honour and title, and till within a very few years their princes received their solemn and legal investiture from him. From his ancestor, the conqueror Clive himself received the warrant of his authority in Bengal; and till 1827 England acquired no new province without applying for his nominal sanction and official firman. Even up to this year the representative of the Governor-General approached him with folded hands, and strangers were presented to him as to a king, happy with the killut or robe of honour with which he usually dismissed them. He received no letters, but only petitions, and never returned a salute. The state of the city and palace, exhibiting the extremes of filth and luxury, well symbolised the condition of this royal court. The vast marble halls were crumbling in rapid decay; crows and kites and unclean birds nestled amidst the mosaics and carvings tumbled on the floor, and rank plants on the walls rent or concealed the sculptured texts of the Koran. In the hall of public audience still exists the dais of the peacock-throne, which, valued at six millions sterling, was just a tithe of the treasure that Nadir Shah carried off to Persia, when, in that same chamber, he exchanged turbans with the defeated Emperor Mohammed Shah, and by that exchange acquired the koh-i-noor which Mohammed up to that time had worn. In this ruined paradise of Oriental sensualism the house of Tamerlane still revelled in unchecked vileness. The royal family, consisting of many hundreds, idle, dissolute, shameless, too proud or too effeminate for military service, lived in entire dependence on the king's allowances. For their amusement were congregated from all India the most marvellous jugglers, the most cunning bird-tamers and snake- charmers, the most fascinating dancing-girls, the most skilled Persian musicians. Along the cornice on the outside of the Dewnni Kass, or chamber of private audience, run, in letters of gold on white marble, the lines mortalised by Moore: — 'If there be an Elysium on earth, it is this, it is this!' The sybaritism of this licentious city, its picturesque and curious buildings, its modern private houses in the suburbs with their delicious gardens and orange-groves and cool verandahs, its idle and luxurious life, have seduced many a young writer or ensign who had the command of thousands but not of self. He revelled here in the orientalism of larger retinues and grosser luxuries. The elephants with painted ears and silver anklets and costly howdars, plodding along the narrow streets overhung with jalousied balconies, recalled those early dreams of Eastern magnificence and mystery of which he had found so little elsewhere. The jewellers and the goldsmiths, the workers of scarves, the inlayers of bidree ware, and the weavers of shawls, here displayed their richest wares, and furnished the most beautiful of those treasured presents which adorn so many an English home, — which it rejoiced so many a son and brother to dispatch, so many a mother and sister to receive.
But though the population of 152,000 souls was exactly balanced between Mahomedans and Hindoos, it was the Moslem who here reigned supreme. To him the names of Mahmood of Ghuznee, of Tamerlane, of Baber, of Acbar, and Arungzebe were familiar and household words. Through the seven land gates of the city had issued the armies that had subdued the Hindoo to Mussulman rule, and through them had poured in the horses and fruits of Cabul, the armour of Oude, the shawls of Cashmere, the tributes of a hundred princes to the glory of the Great Mogul. The magnificent buildings of Shahjehan told of the acme of their greatness, and even in the decrepitude and decay of the Mogul empire, science had erected the vast Observatory of stone and marble instruments. Here was their most sacred mosque, though desecrated by British restoration — here their grand Moollah, and their most holy dervishes. To this hotbed of intolerant Moslem fanaticism thronged from all India the ascetics, the devotees, the lowest rabble of superstitious vagabondism. There were few signs of British rule except the restored Jumma Musjid and the repaired aqueduct, at the introduction of whose waters, in 1820, the grateful inhabitants threw in garlands of roses and offerings of jewels; but the activity of increasing population and commerce, ever attendant on Anglo-Saxon occupation, was visible in the rich banks, the Italian villas, and the doubled value of land and houses. Especially this was the great arsenal of the Indian artillery, which, according to some accounts, amounted at this time to 640 heavy guns, with 480 of field artillery, and corresponding ammunition. Such was the city, at once the focus of Moslem fanaticism and the centre of British defence, which, in such a temperament of the Bengal army, was left, on May 10th, without the protection of a single British soldier!
On Monday morning, May 11th, the order of the Governor-General, disbanding the 34th regiment at Barrackpore, had been read before the troops at Delhi. The parade was scarcely over, when the report came of the arrival of the mutinous troopers from Meerut at the Calcutta gate. A few, who had ridden ahead, had entered the city and shot down a European officer, and more were announced as approaching. Brigadier Graves, confident in his Native troops, at once rode forward on the Cashmere road to meet them. The 54th Native infantry marched out eagerly in gallant style, and as the motley troop of some 200 horsemen, with English medals on their breasts, drums beating and flags flying, were seen to approach, dusty and jaded from their long march, the word was given to the 54th to fire. They answered by discharging their pieces into the air; and before the officers clearly saw the turn which things had taken, many of them were shot down by the men. The confidence with which the mutineers approached was now explained — the troops at Delhi and Meerut understood one another.
On the return of the surviving officers to the city the whole rabble of the city were up, and joining the mutineers in firing and plundering. Brigadier Graves immediately took measures for the safety of the Europeans, and appointed the Flagstaff Tower for the rendezvous. Here were soon collected such civilians and ladies as were within reach, and such native troops as still seemed faithful. Dr. Batson volunteered at once to disguise himself as a faquir and go to Meerut for assistance, and the tale of his perils and escapes would in itself form the subject of a volume. At the first sign of danger Lieut. Willoughby put the small-arms magazine, which was under his superintendence, in a state of defence. Two guns were brought within the walls, and the gates barricaded. Successive summons had come in the King of Delhi's name to deliver up the place to the insurgents. The only reply vouchsafed was a volley of grape. But now their artillery ammunition was exhausted; the last round had been fired; the mutineers had scaled the walls; and the Natives employed in the magazine had openly joined them. There remained but four Europeans, and Lieut. Willoughby resolved to blow up the magazine before it fell into the enemy's hands. Some 500 of the mutineers perished in the explosion, and with them was destroyed the greater part of two millions and a half rounds of small ammunition. Scorched and wounded, Lieut. Willoughby got away to Meerut; but this heroic soldier did not long survive his wounds. Meanwhile the Europeans were escaping as best they could, by twos and threes; men separated from their wives, mothers from their children, made their way to the river's edge, and awaited the darkness of night to cover their escape. Some fled for refuge to the houses of natives. Sir Thomas Metcalfe was three days concealed in Delhi before he fled. Others were hunted out, and cruelly butchered. The vilest rabble of the jail, the lowest dregs of the foulest city in India, were in rampant power, and devilishly did they use it; as if the pent-up fury of an hundred years was wreaking itself on their hated masters.
The lesser sufferings of flight and wanderings, as the scattered Europeans made their way to Meerut or Kurnaul, have been since given in frightful detail. In all our righteous indignation against the authors of these wrongs, we should yet never forget that there were hundreds of natives, Brahmins, faquirs, rajahs, zemindars, high and low, who took pity on the outcasts, gave them food and clothing, hid them in their houses, and guided them on their way, when the detection of such care for the lives of the hated foreigner would have cost them their own.
Within the city itself it is equally clear that the best and most respectable of the inhabitants neither sympathised with nor supported the rebels. They had too much to lose to wish to see an infuriated mob triumphant; but others, through hate or fear, brought forth, after a time, the white people who had taken shelter under their roofs, and delivered them over to their relentless executioners. What the complicity of the king in the previous plot may have been is not yet known: but he soon assumed the authority of appointing leaders to the mutineers, and of enforcing such order within the city as an armed mob would allow.
It speedily appeared that the outbreak at Meerut and Delhi was no isolated movement. As the news ran from station to station the bearing of the troops became more independent and insolent, and an uneasy feeling pervaded the whole of the European civilians, though the officers continued to have confidence in their men, or at least deemed it prudent to affect it. Already troops on their way to the rescue in the immediate neighbourhood of Meerut had gone over to the rebels, when, on May 14th, 200 miles off at Ferozepore, the 49th Native infantry rose in open mutiny. Fortunately her Majesty's 61st Fusileers were at hand, by whom the insurgents were at once repulsed — not, however, till they had destroyed the European residences and burnt to the ground the Church, known and dear to ourselves beyond any other in India as being the one raised to the memory of the soldiers who fell in the Sutlej and Punjaub campaigns. The 10th Light Cavalry, since disarmed, then stood firm, and made great havoc among the mutineers; nor did the affair pass off with their momentary dispersement. They were pursued and brought back as prisoners, and sentenced to death by a court-martial of native officers. A month after the outbreak, twenty-four were brought out for execution: ten were reprieved on the spot, on a promise to divulge the particulars of the plot. Of the rest, two were hung and ten blown from the guns in the presence of the troops and inhabitants. The men met their fate with great steadiness, taunting those who saved their lives by submission. The native spectators seemed horror-stricken at the sight, but the effect of the severity did not extend beyond the station. Ferozepore lies on the Bengal side of the Sutlej river, and its vicinity to our newly-acquired territory of the Punjaub might have led men at a distance to tremble for its effect on the Sikh population — so notoriously fond of fighting — and to suppose that here the chord of loyalty would be at its greatest strain; but those who knew the excellent system introduced, and the men that were there to work it, had great reliance from the first that, by force or management, things would be kept right. Among the Bengal troops, however, quartered there, the mutinous undercurrent was at work, and broke out in great violence at Nooshera.
But little time was lost. General Reid, in concert with Brigadiers Chamberlain, Cotton, Edwardes, and Nicholson, immediately organized a moveable column, which placed the whole district under military law, and the work of disarming went regularly on, though with different success. The vigorous dealing with the suspected troops, and the general pacification of the Punjaub, reflect the highest credit on Sir John Lawrence and his coadjutors; and the best compliment that can be paid to the authorities of that district is the further omission of the name of the Punjaub in the distressing history that ensues.
Every day was now adding strength to the insurrection. The Europeans were helpless in the hands of their soldiers, and their best chance was to fall back upon the old prestige of the English name; but natives are as quick as children in detecting motives; they saw through the thin mask, and knew who were really masters. Spreading from Delhi north-east through Rohilcund, the mutinous contagion had early reached Bareilly; and though to the 23rd of June the authorities went on enlisting recruits into the Irregular Cavalry — the body deemed most trustworthy — the residents were on their guard. They had sent their wills down to Calcutta, and their children and wives to Nynee Tal, a hill station in the Himalayas, and they themselves for weeks slept with their clothes on, their pistols loaded, and their horses saddled, ready to start at a moment's notice. The whirlwind seemed to have passed by them, and the men came to them with most earnest assurances, and begged them for their wives and children back from the hills. On Sunday, May 31st, morning prayer was being offered up as usual in the church, when suddenly the cry of the Philistines upon them ran through the congregation. The crisis had been so long expected that, when the terrible moment came at last, most of the officers and civilians were able to avail themselves of the preconcerted plans. Each rushed to his house, and pursued by the servants, on whose loyalty they had most depended, they rode off at full gallop towards Nynee Tal. There were times when one stumble or a moment's breathing rest would have been fatal to the rider; but though several horses fell down dead with fatigue just as they reached their refuge, all their riders escaped. Looting, arson, and murder immediately succeeded. Dr. Hay and two civilians were taken before a native who had been employed in our own magistrates' courts, and, after a mock trial, were sentenced to death and beheaded. A subadar of the artillery proclaimed himself governor of the province under the king of Delhi, but his authority was of no avail to preserve order; the suwars and sepoys, Mahomedans and Hindoos, had already fallen to blows, and, after fighting among themselves for the treasury, dispersed for the head-quarters at Delhi. In connexion with the troops at Bareilly were the 29th Native infantry of the neighbouring station of Moradabad. They seemed to have joined unwillingly; and to have been more intent on spoil than blood. They made no attack on their officers, but bade them speed to the hills, some of the sepoys and servants accompanying them all the way to Nynee Tal, where the deadly Terai, a forest-jungle at the foot of the hills, acting as a barrier of pestilence, afforded the refugees, with a small Ghoorkha force, their best protection against the rebels of the plain. At Shahjehanpore also, in the same district, the Englishmen were surrounded while in Church. The first accounts reported all killed; but many were saved by the faithfulness of their native servants and syces (grooms), who protected them from the mutineers and assisted them in their escape.
So rapid had been the tide of disaffection that, by the end of May, 34 regiments of the Bengal army had been disbanded, disarmed, or mutinied; but all affirmed that the worst was over. The fall of Delhi, daily expected, would set all things straight; loyal addresses poured in to Government; Native regiments were volunteered to be led against their mutinous brethren; and the Governor-General, on the 25th, thanked in person the 70th at Barrackpore for the loyalty they had so opportunely shown in giving up some traitors who had attempted to seduce them, and offering at once to be led to Delhi. Nevertheless, from Ajmeer on the one side to Oude on the other, new outbreaks and atrocities were reported by every post, and June opened with no very bright prospects. It has been stated that time most considerable of the native rajahs were early in the field with their offers of assistance. The time was now come to test their value.
In Central and Upper Hindostan still lie large states under their independent sovereigns, though subject to the surveillance of English residents, and with contingent corps, officered by Europeans, which they are bound by treaty to bring into the field at the call of the British Government. Of these independent states, lying northward and nearest to the scene of mutiny, is Gwalior, with its cities Gwalior and Neemuch, the dominion of Scindia, the descendant of that Mahratta chief Scindia, to whom, by final treaty in 1805, the country south of the Chumbul was assigned. On the first outbreak, the greatest hopes were entertained of the support of these rulers and their several contingents. Their troops had not been brought in contact with the mutineers, their interests might be supposed to be different, and the chiefs, though rivals with one another, were known to be favourable and friendly to the British Government. For a time they were only heard of as devoted to our alliance and marching to our support; but as the evil spirit extended, and it was discovered to be more than mere military discontent, it was found that no more dependance could be placed on these contingents than on our men. To this day Scindia of Gwalior and Holcar of Indore remain firm, and have rendered us considerable service. But with their troops the feeling was far otherwise. As early as the first outbreak at Meerut, a company of the Gwalior contingent had proved false, but it was at a time that they were exposed to great temptation, and the main body of the contingent were still believed to be uninfected with their spirit. In almost every instance the same feeling was indulged. Partly in fear, but more in faith, wherever a European officer was found, he continued to confide in the men by whom he was surrounded. At Neemuch, when suspicion of their fidelity first arose, the men were indignant at the thought, and they voluntarily took the oath in the most solemn manner on the Ganges water, that they would prove true to the masters whose salt they ate. On the very next day, the 3rd of June, they rose in mass, and the cavalry at once surrounded the houses of the English to prevent their escape. Here the sepoys, though in mutiny, still for a time defended their officers, when, seeing the artillery approach, they told them they could do no more for them, and they must now run for their lives. Those who escaped from the first slaughter had to wander forth into an unknown country in wretched plight. They had left, at a moment's notice, with only the clothes they had on their backs. At each village the people, uneasy at their presense, pushed them onward to the next. Sleeping on the bare ground, attacked by disease and vermin, thankful for the dirty water and unpalatable chepattie which was grudgingly afforded them, daily haunted with the rumours of the approach of fresh mutineers, threatened by stragglers, and not knowing whither to flee, many miserably perished, how and where will never be told. To one party of men, women, and children a timely succour arrived, and, after a fortnight's wandering, the good Rana of Oudepore — be his name remembered — brought them back in safety to Neemuch. At Gwalior itself seven officers, with their wives and children, were massacred at the first rising. The 1st and 2nd Calvary alone rescued their officers, and, taking them to the outside of cantonments, bade them go in peace. Some strange feeling of pity even the murderers seem to have had. After shooting down every Englishman within their reach, they came back to the wretched women, hiding and clinging to their homes, and, after mocking and threatening, they crammed all that remained in a carriage and sent them away. The whole country was up, and there was little hope of their reaching any place of safety; but after five days' misery, and living only on grain and water, their lives supported by a spirit which in great extremity is never wanting to the most delicate Englishwoman, they got to Agra at last.
The success of the mutineers at Delhi was now beginning to tell at distant stations. But it would be injustice to suppose that there were none who regretted the movement, — none, who if left to themselves would not willingly have served their old masters. Not only individual sepoys, but whole companies and regiments would doubtless have remained firm, if the outbreak at Meerut had been provided against and crushed on the instant. It is evident that many men were drawn into the stream with reluctance; but the tide was now running at full height, and it required indeed a strong swimmer to breast it alone. Yet all the good qualities of the sepoy were not crushed in a moment. At Azimghur, the treasure-escort had just started for Benares, and the officers, with the ladies, were at mess, when two signal-guns at once warned them that mischief was brewing. Placing the ladies in safety, the officers proceeded direct to the parade- ground; on their approach the men immediately formed a square about them, assured them that no one should touch them, but begged them to take to their carriages and be off at once. They even fetched the carriages themselves, and one party escorted Major Burroughs and his officers ten miles on their way to Ghazeepore; while another rode after the treasure-escort, some to protect it, others to have their share in the plunder.
The news of this rising reached Benares on the following day, and precipitated matters there. This 'holy city' is to the Hindoo what Delhi is to the Mussulman, but while at Delhi the population is equally balanced between the two creeds, at Benares the Hindoos are ten to one. There are more than a thousand sivalas, or Hindoo temples, within the city, but the characteristic feature is that of the numerous beautiful ghâts, or flights of steps into the river, where the Hindoos come to bathe in the sacred stream of the Ganges. The descriptions of the city by Heber and Macaulay yet hold true. The sacred bulls and devout beggars still crowd up the narrow overhanging streets; and the divine monkeys leap from pinnacle to pinnacle of the temples, round which are posted the hideous faquirs and other ascetics of revolting character, 'offering every conceivable deformity which chalk, cow-dung, disease, matted locks, distorted limbs, and disgusting and hideous attitudes of penance can show.' In Benares Brahminism is seen in all its completeness. Here suttee and self- immolation made their last stand. To die on its holy ground is to secure a certainty of eternal bliss; one pilgrimage to it, at least, in his life every Hindoo hopes to accomplish. The gaudiest and most costly festivals of all India are celebrated there; an eclipse would bring a hundred thousand pilgrims to the river stairs; 'where are passed the busiest and happiest hours of every Hindoo's day: bathing, dressing, praying, preaching, lounging, gossiping, or sleeping.'2 On these ghâts the natives combine business, meat, and religion, all in one. Every encouragement has here been given by the British Government to Hindoo literature and education, and the people generally were believed to feel and acknowledge the benefits of our rule. It only required this city to be brought over to make the mutiny a common cause of both the rival creeds of India.
Most providentially, on the very day of the news of the Azimghur rising reaching Benares, Colonel Neil, with two guns and 210 men of her Majesty's 10th, and of the Madras Fusileers (Europeans) — the first- fruits of the English troops that had been sent for — arrived from Calcutta. It was determined to disarm the disaffected 37th, though many of the officers still maintained it to be staunch. An ordinary parade was quietly ordered, and a hollow square formed. On the north were the huts of the Native 37th, on the West a regiment of Sikhs, on the south the 13th Irregular Cavalry, on the east the opportune handful of English soldiers. Both the cavalry and Sikhs had been throughout considered trustworthy, and had been specially called in for the defence of the city against the sepoys. The cavalry, indeed, had begun to be slightly suspected; the Sikhs were deemed as trustworthy as our own men. When the 37th Native infantry saw the artillery and Europeans drawn out, and found they had been forestalled, they refused to lay down their arms. And now occurred one of the strangest conflicts that history has to tell. The accounts are necessarily confused, perhaps none quite correct, but all agree in the character the fight ultimately assumed. On the first orders to disarm, the 37th replied by pouring a volley into their own officers, yet not one fell at the first discharge. Immediately the men retreated into their huts, under cover of which they continued to fire on the Europeans, and Captain Guise, commanding the Irregulars, coming upon the ground at this moment, fell riddled by the balls of the sepoys. The Sikhs and the cavalry stood for a while looking on, till Captain Dodgson of the 37th, seeing the cavalry had lost their leader, rode up, and offered himself to head them. He was yet speaking, when a bullet struck his sword-arm and disabled him; the man who fired the shot rushed upon him, and Dodgson was only saved by a man of the same troop who came up to the rescue. The Sikhs advanced and placed themselves between the cavalry and the 37th, facing the latter; but, on being ordered to attack, they wheeled round, firing, some on the cavalry, some, it is supposed, on the Europeans. From this moment there was no distinguishing between friend and foe. The English guns were turned from the 37th, and opened upon the Sikhs and cavalry alike, who losing, or brought again to, their senses, now fired on the 37th. But it was now too late to recover themselves, if they had any such intention. The huts of the sepoys had been meanwhile fired, and they were in full flight. The Sikhs and cavalry were not long behind them, the artillery poured in their grapeshot, and in less than an hour had cleared the parade-ground of all living enemies. Though the English troops were 200 to 2000, only four men were killed. Such was the Mêlée of Benares.
There is some reason to think that the main body of the Sikhs was faithful. Their subsequent conduct at Benares, and Allahabad, and that of their countrymen elsewhere, greatly confirms this view. But still more to complicate the matter, we find, on the evening of the same day, a portion of the Irregular Cavalry escorting the ladies and civilians to the Mint, a portion of the 37th carrying Major Barrett and another officer, wounded, to the cantonments, and 70 Sikhs defending the treasury faithfully to the last. The mutineers, at the first panic, flying and firing random shots in all directions, had spread great alarm among the cantonments and residencies; but the civil magistrates on the spot were men equal to the emergency: the apprehended riots in the city were suppressed, fugitives from neighbouring out-stations kindly protected for a time by native landholders, were searched for and brought in in safety; while the most active measures were instantly taken for collecting all the ladies and civilians within the Mint, a building whose succession of terraces rendered it temporarily defensive, and where, on the Sunday following, order was sufficiently restored to allow the Church services to be carried on. The native servants, and the citizens of character, all behaved well; and a Baptist Missionary writes from the holy city, that 'the landholders, merchants, shopkeepers, artisans, and indeed all the well-doing classes, are to a man against the movement.' Crowded up in the Mint, sleeping on the roofs of the buildings under an eastern moonlight, the Europeans yet held their ground up to the end of July. Soorul Sing, a Sikh chieftain, had proved himself so faithful and watchful in his guard, that the ladies and children in the Mint had already subscribed 100l. to make him the honourable present of a set of handsome armour.
It has since been discovered that the night of the 4th of June had been agreed upon for a general rising at Benares and the neighbouring stations; and the conflict was precipitated by the arrival of Colonel Neil on the eve of the outbreak. At Allahabad the few additional hours for conspiracy turned the fate of the day. The town lies higher up the river than Benares, at the very point of junction of the Jumna with the Ganges, which here becomes about a mile in width. These junctions, or prayagas, wherever they occur, are Holy of Holies to the bathing pilgrims of Hindostan, and Allahabad the most holy of all. The fort stands in an impregnable position on the tongue of land formed by the confluence of the rivers; and here the very smallest force of Europeans might have kept any amount of Orientals at bay. It lies a quarter of a mile from the station, and was garrisoned by Sikhs. At the station were the 'loyal' 6th Native infantry, who had volunteered with enthusiasm to march against the insurgents of Delhi, and had been publicly thanked for their spirit, and such confidence was felt in these men that the civilians, trusting rather to the stalwart hearts and arms of the sepoys than to the stone walls, generally refused to come into the fort for safety. The officers sat down to mess in old English comfort. There was a large muster that day, for six or seven young ensigns, unattached, fresh from their English homes, had just joined, and the poor boys must have been entering with zest on the new life, as they thought, opening before them. At half-past nine the garrison was roused from their beds by the sound of firing heard at the station, and the alarm-bugle shortly brought them to the ramparts. So steady was the report of the musketry that the remark was, 'Well done, gallant sepoys! they are beating off the rebels, who are come at last.' But before long, the sad truth was known. The officer in charge of the artillery came galloping into the fort, saying that his guns had been seized and drawn towards the station, and that the whole of the sepoys were in mutiny, murdering every European they could find, military and civil alike. Of seventeen officers at the mess that evening, only three escaped — two by swimming the Ganges to the fort. Mockery was added to murder; for while this butchery was going on, the band was playing 'God save the Queen.' In all, fifty Europeans fell by the hands of the sepoys that night. Then followed the usual course. The jail broken open, the treasury sacked, house after house plundered and fired, the station a smoking ruin, and the green flag of the Prophet raised above the town by a moulvie, who represented himself as viceroy of the King of Delhi. Colonel Neil, pursuing his mission of relief up the valley of the Ganges, bringing retribution in his van and leaving order in his rear, came too late to aid the sufferers, but not too late to punish their murderers. By the aid of the Sikhs in the fort under Major Brazier, and supported by a steamer that moved along the river, Colonel Neil, with his little force, attacked and fired the town, drove the Brahmins and moulvies to flight, recovered the lost guns, and restored order in the city and security in the fort. The nephew of the rebel moulvie was put to death by the Sikhs, who showed little disposition to spare. The native Christian catechists, who had been made prisoners by the insurgents at the outbreak, were left behind when the city was abandoned by them, having been befriended by a wealthy Hindoo zemindar. Allahabad has now become the base of operations to the North-West, and thither the troops, as they arrive at Calcutta, are at once forwarded with all speed.
At the little out-post garrison of Jhansi, where terrible atrocities were enacted, it was said that an English officer, driven to desperation, when he saw the sepoys swarming up the walls of the last stronghold, kissed his wife, shot her, and then himself. Now nothing could justify, nothing but bereavement of senses excuse, so pagan an act. The descending sword has oftentimes been warded off in its fall; rescue has arrived at the last moment of the eleventh hour; and true courage, as well as true faith, would wait God's own time. It is a relief to find that there is no foundation for the story, save that they both miserably perished.
It would be in vain to attempt to follow out the mutiny at every station as it now so rapidly arose. The mind sickens and wearies over the narrative of the same forbearing confidence, the same treacherous assassination, the same hairbreadth escapes, the same courageous endurance of misery in British soldiers and civilians, men and women. But some cases have special features of their own, and not always easy to reconcile, or to comprehend. On the 8th of June, at Fyzabad, in the centre of Oude, a regiment of Irregulars, combining within the 22nd Native infantry, took possession of the battery, but allowed their officers to escape; they protected them from the townspeople, found them boats, gave each his own property and 900 rupees from the public treasury, which they had looted; yet, falling in with other mutineers, the fugitives were hunted by them like otters on the river, and many perished on the islands and banks on which they had taken refuge, or owed their lives to the protection of some hospitable rajah. On the 12th of June, in the Sonpal district, at Deoghyr, in the midst of a quiet country, Major Macdonald, Sir Norman Leslie, and Dr. Grant, of the 5th Irregular Cavalry, were at tea; three natives rushed in upon them, and, almost before they were aware of their presence, Leslie was murdered, and his companions, who had to fight for their lives with the furniture they could lay hold of, were badly wounded. The 32nd, still faithful up to the last accounts, showed great sympathy with the officers, and did all in their power to arrest the murderers. The assassins, proved to be of the 5th Irregular Cavalry, were soon captured and hung by men of their own regiment, who professed great horror at the deed, and who have all since mutinied. By the middle of June, while order was being restored in several places where the sepoys had risen, a general anarchy was extended to places apparently free from the military influence. Petty rajahs proclaimed their independence, and were, in some instances, pounced upon and hanged; dacoittee and robbery were spreading, and all the evil elements of the lowest classes were stirred up; roads became unsafe; disbanded sepoys were ranging the country and cutting off unprotected travellers; but there has been nothing which resembles a national rising.
By the end of June the Bengal army may be said to have ceased to exist. Seventy regiments were gone, and the few that remained were only awed by the presence of European troops, or kept together by local influences so slight that the lightest breath might disperse them. Throughout the whole troubles, wherever Anglo-Saxon energy has shown itself, its effect was immediately felt. Lawrence and Edwardes in the Punjaub, and Henry Lawrence in Oude, whether successfully guiding or compelling their people, or dying at their post, were literally in themselves a host — a match for a thousand.
Agra, the capital of the North-West provinces, had of course early been brought within the influence of the insurrection now eddying from Meerut far and wide; the Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. Coivin, with prompt decision hastened to reassure the sepoys in their allegiance, and on his harangue to the troops, Native and European, the cheering of the sepoys outweighed that of the English, and lasted longer, and the city settled down into confidence and repose; soon, however, to be dissipated. On the 25th of May, in ignorance of what had happened elsewhere, the ill-judged proclamation offering pardon to all who would return to their allegiance was issued, but cancelled as soon as know by the Governor-General. Meanwhile the native soldiers, entrusted with the convoy of treasure, had turned on their officers and murdered them on the road. The fruits of forbearance elsewhere began to be better understood, and on the 1st of June all the native regiments within the place were by good management disarmed. The communication between the fort and city was still kept up, but matters looked awkward, and none could tell what was coming to pass. There was now no want of energy; walls were repaired, the old fort was cleared out and put in order, and the whole Christian population were drilled and armed. Our old friend Jotee Persaud, whose commissariat arrangements saved us in the Sutlej campaign, but who was prosecuted, though acquitted, for embezzlement, came to the aid of his masters. Perhaps he forgot our ingratitude in our justice. Meanwhile refugees from Gwalior and other parts came dropping into Agra, each with their tale of horror and misery. What days they spent in scorching suns, what perils by day, by night, by robbers, in watchings, in fastings, in weariness and faintness, in nakedness — what miraculous escapes, what heartless cruelty, yet often what consideration and what kindness — it was a relief to tell when the troubles were past. Within such tales did they beguile their countrymen in Agra, who out of their now decreasing store, continued to give food and raiment to the new comers. Though every fresh arriver had more fearful miseries and deeper horrors to relate, and all suggestive of more imminent dangers to the listeners, there was no failing of spirit in the ranks of this British company. On the 4th of July the Kotah contingent, quartered in the cantonments, and believed to be staunch, mutinied and went to join the sepoys who were known to be on their way from Neemuch. On the following day the mutineers united their forces and were within five miles of Agra. It was determined not to await their approach but at once to go out and meet them. The English force was 650 men and one battery of artillery, with such mounted volunteer civilians as could be spared from the fort. The insurgents numbered 4000 infantry, 1500 cavalry, and 11 guns; they had entrenched themselves in the village of Shahgunge, about three miles distant, and desperately they held their position. A handful of volunteers was all that the English had to meet their cavalry, which kept hovering on both flanks but once only dared to charge, and were then received by such a volley from her Majesty's 3rd, under Colonel Riddell, as effectually checked a return. After more than two hours' severe fighting, the natives were dislodged from their position and the artillery was ordered to be brought up in front; it was then discovered that, though the guns were ready, the ammunition was exhausted; two tumbrils had blown up during the engagement, a casualty which the mutineers had welcomed by a yell which in their ranks has already superseded the British cheer. Had the requisite ammunition been at hand, a total rout must have ensued, for already the mutineers' cartridges had come to an end and they were firing pice and stones. The English had now nothing left but to retire; this they did in perfect order, though on the enemy finding our guns silent they again brought their artillery into play. So ended the battle of Agra. Captain D'Oyly, who commanded the British artillery, died of his wounds; of the whole force one man in six was killed, and of killed and wounded together, one in three fell. As the survivors passed through the cantonmnents on their way to the fort, the work of incendiarism and plunder had already began, and they beheld from the ramparts in the evening the whole station, churches, colleges, barracks, houses, in one blaze of flame. The mutineers, however, had had enough of it; they were off to Mutrah, probably to swell the throng now pouring on towards Delhi. The native servants nearly all left their masters at the first panic; a man who had twenty servants in the morning had not one at night; the lower town population was thoroughly disaffected, though now awed into submission by the bearing of the holders of the fort. By the latest accounts all is reported 'well,' and there can be little doubt that the danger to Agra is past.
Our narrative now returns to Lucknow and its neighbour Cawnpore. The early disaffection of the capital of Oude has already been recorded; but in Sir Henry Lawrence the Europeans, besieged within the fortress of Lucknow, had one of the best men in India to defend them. Diminished as his force was by the secession of all the Native troops but the artillery, he had managed to send succour to Cawnpore, and though opposed by a force of mutineers, estimated from 12,000 to 20,000, and a hostile population who always carry arms, was holding out with his little band till reinforcements arrived from below. Pressed at length by want of food and fuel, and reduced to the last extremity, he determined, on July 2nd, to make a sortie on the enemy's lines. After two hours of desperate fighting the armed horde was driven back, and a considerable amount of provisions fell into the hands of the English soldiers, consisting of but 200, part of her Majesty's 32nd, and with these brave fellows, great as was the odds against them, Lawrence could yet repel the open enemy; but for the one remaining bit of treachery he was unprepared. As his little force was retiring hopeful from their victory, and bearing the fruits of their hard-fought battle for the sufferers in the fort, the Native artillery who had accompanied the expedition, and shared in and helped to acquire the late success, suddenly wheeled round, just as our troops reached the fort, and opened a deadly fire on the unfortunate 32nd. Before they were able to recover themselves and face their assailants, 60 men, rank and file, were killed, and, worst of all, among the officers severely wounded, was the gallant leader himself, who, four days afterwards, sunk from lockjaw brought on by the wound. This was the heaviest blow that could have befallen the besieged; but they had fortunately in Major Banks a man equal to the emergency. He wrote on the 8th of July to say that he was prepared to hold out six weeks, and that the garrison were in good heart. This spirit was doomed to a sudden rise and fall, when, on the 30th of July, General Havelock's relief appeared within three miles of the walls of Lucknow, and then had immediately to retire. The fearful suspense which has so long been felt with respect to the garrison is happily abated by the last intelligence, and there is now a confident expectation that it will hold out till it is relieved.
About the 16th of May the news of the Meerut and Delhi revolts reached Cawnpore. They were probably not unexpected by the natives. The garrison, under Sir Hugh Wheeler, one of those Bengal officers whom Sir Charles Napier singled out as a disciplinarian of the first order, consisted entirely of Native regiments, the 1st, the 53rd, and the 56th. The town of Cawnpore, situated on the Doab, or inland peninsula formed by the confluence of the Ganges and the Jumna, lies on the south bank of the former stream — a low and dusty station with no remains of antiquity to interest the stranger, and no fort, or even position of advantage for a beleaguered force to occupy. The old town contains a population of about 50,000; the new town, the growth of British rule, which has sprung up around the cantonments, contains an equal number; and from the grand-trunk road here crossing the river, the place has of late years become one of considerable importance as a mart of inland commerce as well as of military occupation. Before our annexation of the Punjaub, which caused our forces to be concentrated further to the North-West, Cawnpore was the chief military station of India, and its balls, its races, and its theatre made it one of the spots of gayest resort for English society. Once the harbour of Thuggee, of wolves, and of deadly snakes, few places have more benefited by English colonization; and in the compounds and gardens of the military station European fruits and vegetables vied with the mangoes, the shaddocks, the plantains, and time guavas of the East. The cantonments lie for five miles along the river, whose muddy banks will never again be seen by an Englishman without a remembrance of the treachery by which they have been so deeply stained. On the receipt of the disastrous news of the spreading mutiny, Sir Hugh Wheeler lost no time in making the most of his bad position. With only fifty European artillerymen he was unable to disarm his garrison, and it was solely by judicious management that he could keep things together till he had made arrangements for extemporizing such a defence as the place was capable of. Sir Henry Lawrence had sent from Lucknow seventy men of her Majesty's 3rd; but towards the end of May they were recalled, and eighty men of her Majesty's 84th and of the Madras Fusileers (Europeans) arrived. The wives and families, however, of the 32nd remained behind; and there was also at this time a large number of lady visitors beyond the ordinary residents of the stations, attracted by the balls of the preceding month. Suspicious symptoms had already appeared. The men of the Native 2nd Light Cavalry had sent their wives and families home on some frivolous pretext; and the feeling of insecurity that pervaded the Europeans cannot better be realised than by the following extracts from the diary letter of the wife of the magistrate of the station: —
'May 13. — You will have seen from the papers that India just now is in a very disturbed state. . . . . It seems strange that at a large station like Meerut they could have managed to do such mischief without the authorities there having an inkling of what was going on. . . . . May 15. — These mutinies are the topic of the day. . . . . There is no saying where and how all this will end. Disaffection in the army is spreading rapidly. Great fears are entertained for Delhi, for there are no European troops there, and the native regiments are all more or less affected. . . . . Cawnpore is quiet, and the regiments here are staunch. . . . . We are very anxious for Lucknow. . . . . May 16. — The news continues still to be very bad. . . . . There does not seem to be any immediate danger here, but should they mutiny, we shall either go into the cantonments, or to a place called Bithoor, about six miles from Cawnpore, where the Peishwa's successor resides. He is a great friend of C — — 's, and is a man of enormous wealth and influence; and he has assured C — — that we should all be quite safe there. I myself would much prefer going to the cantonment, but C — — thinks it would be better for me and our precious children to be at Bithoor. . . . . May 17. — It is expected that in about three weeks we shall have recaptured Delhi and blown the place to pieces. We do not expect there will be much fighting, for a few shells thrown into the fort, and a volley or two, will quickly disperse them, and they will probably give in at once. . . . . May 18. — This is an anxious time, for though Cawnpore remains quiet, we cannot help thinking of the dangers which surround us, and of the sufferings of our dear friends and fellow countrymen. . . . . There are all sorts of dreadful rumours going about, but I hope they are false. If there should be an outbreak here, dearest C — — has made all the necessary arrangements for me and the children to go to Bithoor, and he will go there himself and with the aid of the Rajah, to whose house we are going, he will collect and head a force of 1500 fighting men, and bring them into Cawnpore to take the insurgents by surprise. This is a plan of their own, and is quite a secret, for the object of it is to come on the mutineers unawares.'
The night of the 21st of May was settled for a general rising of the Native troops. Information of this having reached Wheeler, he ordered the guns at once within the entrenchments, and prepared for the worst. The ladies of the station and the civilians were hurried into the same place of rendezvous, the barrack-hospital; but the violence of the storm that raged fearfully that night prevented the warning reaching all. The vigilance of the commander, and the bold front still shown, cowed the wavering sepoys, and again each officer, while distrusting others, still felt confidence in his own men. While the non-combatants, to the number of 400 or 500, were crowded together in the hospital and little chapel attached, where the heat and suffocation were almost beyond endurance, the officers still slept in the lines, but with loaded pistols under their pillows. The sepoys asked, What had come to the sahibs to be in such fear?
The diary continues:
'May 23. — We are now in cantonments. We came here the day before yesterday, about 5 P. M. The night before the general had so much cause for alarm that he sent a message to Sir H. Lawrence at Lucknow, asking him to assist us with 300 European soldiers; but Lucknow being in a very similar state, he could only spare us 55 men, who have arrived here. . . . . The rumours were so bad that C — — , with the consent of Sir H. Wheeler, wrote to the Rajah of Bithoor to send his force of Mahrattas down here, and all the officers have slept in their lines to show the sepoys that they placed implicit confidence in them. . . . . Can you imagine such a state of things — our own troops threatening us with an outbreak, and then moodily putting it off for a few nights?'
An officer at Cawnpore, writing to Calcutta on the morning of the 5th of June, assured his friend that things had taken a good turn; the men were returning to their allegiance, and with the 150 European soldiers, and provisions for three weeks, they had good hope to hold out till succour came. On the afternoon of the same day he despatched a second letter enclosing his will, and saying that the crisis was come at last, and would be on them in the evening. On that night the men rose on their officers, and many were killed in their attempt to reach the entrenchment. The usual outrages had of course followed the open mutiny. The treasury was seized; the jail opened; the houses plundered and fired; and having killed every Christian that fell in their way, the mutineers and the mob joined in attacking the barrack- hospital in which General Wheeler had entrenched himself. The friend at Bithoor, whom they had so eagerly expected, had at length arrived, and it is time to introduce him to our readers.
Eight miles up the river, above Cawnpore, stands the fortress of Bithoor; it was once the residence of the British magistrate, but had been abandoned for the rising Cawnpore, and assigned to the ex-Peishwa of the Mahrattas. The Peishwa before the Mahratta war was the sovereign rajah of Central India, and was to the Hindoos what the king of Delhi was to the Mahomedans. The late representative of the old dignity, Bajee Rao, lived, largely pensioned, in retirement at Bithoor, where he died about five years ago, immensely rich in jewels, hoarded treasure, and Government securities, to the amount of four millions sterling. Nena Sahib, now about thirty-five years old, was the eldest of two adopted sons, to whom these vast possessions were bequeathed. He applied to the British Government for the continuation of the pension, but this was refused; and the younger adopted son being a minor, the English law-courts stepped in as trustee for his interests — a proceeding which involved Nena in several costly lawsuits, none of which ended in his favour. He petitioned the Government, he sent an agent to England, and altogether had a large nest of real or imaginary grievances to brood over. But he appeared of most hospitable and even jovial disposition, cultivated the English society of Cawnpore, affected many English habits, made up shooting-parties for his European friends, and entertained all comers in most princely style. On what friendly terms he was with the chief magistrate of Cawnpore is seen in the diary from which we have quoted. On the first outbreak at Delhi he expressed his great concern and indeed disbelief of the movement, though probably thoroughly cognizant of what was at hand. To the joy of the English he was now approaching Cawnpore. No sooner had he come up to the mutineers than be threw off the mask, hoisted two standards — one for Mahomet, one for Hunaman — and put himself at the head of their motley force. And now for twenty days, with his army swelling from 4000 to 12,000 men, and with heavy guns, increased from two to twelve, he kept up an unceasing firing and continual assaults on the unfortunate Europeans within the entrenchment. Many were wounded, many died of their wounds; but Wheeler, hopeful of relief, still held out, repulsing every attack and keeping his besiegers at bay. Even his poor stock of grain and sugar, on which they had been now for some time existing, failing at last, he resolved to make one desperate effort to replenish his stores. Though the odds were more than twenty to one against him, he drove the enemy for a time before him; but at length, overpowered by numbers, he was obliged to fight his way back, having lost many of his men, and being himself badly wounded. Two days afterwards, the disheartened band, with only two days' provisions left, hoisted on the 26th a flag of surrender. Nena Sahib received the deputation respectfully, and even courteously, and solemnly swore to spare their lives, to allow them to take their arms, and a lac and a half of rupees, and to furnish them with boats to proceed down the river to Allahabad. On the 27th the boats were announced as ready, and the whole remaining body of Europeans were marched down to the river's bank, escorted by a troop of cavalry. The men were crowded into the open boats, the women and children still retained on the shore; but the moment the dinghies pushed off into the stream Nena ordered his guns to open upon them. Some were sunk, some burnt, some few men reached the shore only to be cut down by the suwars. A single boat managed to get through the dreadful ordeal, and escaped ten miles down the river; it was pursued and captured, and the unhappy survivors brought back to Cawnpore, where some were cut to pieces inch by inch, while others were stripped and lashed naked together on bamboos and floated down the Ganges to bear the first news of the massacre to their countrymen at Allahabad, who, seeing the corpses floating by, brought them on shore and buried them. The women and children who were left, to the number of two or three hundred, were marched back to the cantonments, and kept under Nena Sahib's own surveillance on the miserable rations of a prison diet. But now relief seemed to be approaching. On the 7th of July General Havelock had left Allahabad with 1300 Europeans in the direction of Cawnpore; and on the morning of the 13th he joined Major Renaud's advanced column four miles from Futteypore. The enemy came out to meet him; Captain Maude's artillery was advanced to the front, and electrified the natives with its fire, who were driven by the skirmishers and columns through the gardens and streets of Futteypore in complete confusion, leaving the whole of their guns behind them. To the rapidity and precision of the artillery, to the power of the Enfield rifle, to British pluck, and 'to the blessing of the Almighty on a most righteous cause,' the Brigadier in the order for the day attributes the results of a whole army scattered to the winds without the loss of a single British soldier! Havelock pushed on for Cawnpore, and, after several engagements, with trifling loss re- captured the ill-fated place on the 17th of July, totally defeating Nena Sahib in person, who, after blowing up the magazine at Cawnpore, retreated in hurried flight to his fastness at Bithoor. The full extent of the massacre was now discovered. On the 16th, when the wretch found that the day was going against him, he ordered the indiscriminate butchery of the women and children yet left alive; and, on the English troops taking possession of the place on the following morning, the rooms and yard in which the prisoners had been confined were found two inches deep in the blood of the victims. Long tresses of hair, scraps of paper, torn Bibles and Prayer-books, workboxes and unfinished work, and the little round hats of the children scattered about on the red floor, told too well the harrowing tale.
Our object has been to give a general outline of the events attending the mutiny, which, from the numerous localities concerned, from the multitude of the details, and from the inevitable want of arrangement in the mass of letters which tell the tale to the public, have left a confused impression in the minds of many. The circumstances which have operated to produce this convulsion appear to lie on the surface. Those who are acquainted with the country are mostly of opinion that the native civilians prefer our government, with all its shortcomings, to the stern and exacting sway of their own princes. But this is a feeling which cannot be shared by the native rulers themselves. One by one they have been swept away by the advancing tide of British dominion, and he who escaped to-day was well aware that the wave would engulph him hereafter. The annexation of Oude, which, however convenient to ourselves or beneficial to the country at large, seems certainly to have been effected in defiance of treaties, was eminently calculated to exasperate the victims of our policy. Those who were either losers now, or foresaw that their turn would come later, may not improbably have used their money, influence, and arguments to precipitate an outbreak, which afforded them the only chance of recovering or retaining their authority. But, independently of this impulse from without, there were causes enough within the army itself to account for the mutiny. The Mahometan has lost his military, the Brahmin is losing his social, sway, and the desire to recover it is a mere instinct of human nature. The supremacy of foreigners, differing from them in race, habits, and religion, could not but be hateful to them; and it was a matter of course that they should desire to reverse the situation, and from subjects to become masters. All they wanted was opportunity to strike the blow, and faith to believe that the blow would be successful. We have taken care by our conduct to give them the first, and to inspire them with the second. That the Bengal army had been in a perilous state for years is now universally admitted. Why, with the spirit of insubordination so rife and increasing, and with so many of its causes so clearly pointed out, no steps were taken by the Indian Government to stay the evil, is difficult to explain, and seems not to admit of an excuse. No wisdom in civil rule can atone for want of attention to our military supremacy, since it is the foundation and guarantee of all the rest. The best measures without the strength to enforce them are only so many incentives to rebellion and anarchy when we are dealing with men whose prejudices they oppose and whose power they undermine. Both Sir Charles Napier and Colonel Jacob, little as they agreed in other matters, united in condemning the predominance of Brahmin influence in the Bengal army. 'Treachery,' said the former six years ago, 'mutiny, villainy of all kinds may be carried on among the private soldiers, unknown to their officers, to any extent, where the men are of one caste of Hindoos, and where the rules of caste are more regarded than those of military discipline.' To the Brahmins this applied with double force; and yet at the beginning of this very year we have the local adjutant-general issuing an order to extend the preference of high over low caste men to the army of Bombay! Not only did this truckling to caste give power to the most dangerous class of our private soldiers, and lower our own standing in the natives' eyes, but it tended to the subversion of all discipline; and, 'for fear of offending the lazy and insolent Brahmins,' it had come to pass that a Bengal sepoy was unable, or rather refused, to picket or groom his own horse, to strike the gong at his own quarter-guard, or to take his own musket for sentry-duty. Lord Dalhousie, writing to Napier in January, 1850, says: — 'The sepoy has been overpetted and overpaid of late, and has been led on by the Government itself into the entertainment of expectations and the manifestation of a feeling which he never held in former times.' Colonel Hodgson, in a pamphlet published at Meerut in 1851, uses almost the same words: — 'Of late years it has been the fashion to overpay, over-caress, and over-laud the sepoy,' — and the sepoy had come fully to believe that we could not do without him. Many circumstances had tended to increase this feeling. He knew that it had been proposed to employ him in the Russian and the Chinese wars; he had lately been useful in Persia. While we were offending by recent laws the prejudices of the civil population, the sepoy always found his own scruples regarded. Bengal officers have been known to boast that their men would not perform subordinate duties which the armies of the other Presidencies willingly undertook. The Bengal sepoy had become the fine gentleman, the swaggerer, the swash-buckler, and the bully, of the Native population, and the terror of his own officer. To use the expressive English phrase, he was thoroughly 'spoilt.' The encouragement of petitioning and grievance- making in high quarters led the men to despise their commanders and then to disobey them. Nothing but the real enforcement of our superiority has any effect with the native. 'All our power in India,' says General Jacob, 'rests on this, — they will never consent to be governed by a handful of their equals.' Other causes may have helped: the under-officering of regiments; the absence of many of the best men on civil staff-appointments; the inefficiency of superannuated generals, and the incompetency of commanders-in-chiefs; but the two evils of submission to native caste, and the disallowance of power to the English officer, are at the bottom of all the mischief. The greased cartridges were no doubt felt to be a real grievance, but it was only the spark which fired the mine that had been long preparing. Sir Charles Napier was, we think, thoroughly right in his claim for greater military independence both for himself and every subaltern. Every Indian crisis must be a military one; and the supervision of a civil Governor-General, much more the intervention of a civil or military board would be irksome and shackling to a much less impetuous temper than that of Napier. If the offices of Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief are to be kept separate, we shall probably for some years to come not send out second-rate or untried men in either capacity; but for a really strong and vigorous administration, such as is now required, the powers should be combined.
The religious scruple pretended by the mutineers at once gave the handle, so readily seized, for throwing the blame of the outbreak on the Christian Missionaries and Societies. Lord Ellenborough, backed by Lord Lansdowne in the House of Lords pronounced it incredible that Lord Canning should have given his subscription to a Mission Society (whose sphere, it turns out, was confined to the European Christians of Calcutta), and implied that it was enough to account for the mutiny had he done so; and that he would certainly merit to be recalled. It was said that we had offended the natives by forcing Christian education upon them, and had brought the authority of Government to bear upon native conversion. The law lately passed by which a convert from Hindooism was saved from the entire loss of his property, to which he was subject under the old Hindoo law, was alleged by Mr. Disraeli as a pernicious and tyrannous innovation. But the course of events soon cleared off this line of argument. Though the missionaries at Delhi and Cawnpore, and elsewhere, fell in the indiscriminate slaughter of Europeans, there was no special animosity exhibited either against their persons or their quarters. In some places, as at Meerut, the missionary bungalow was spared in the general ruin; at Juanpore it was burnt in cold blood by a roof-maker to get himself a job. In the Punjaub and in Benares the preachers and teachers have already recommenced their services and schools, and the natives attend them. So far from the Bengal sepoy being the object of missionary propagandism, the only known baptized sepoy in that army was in 1819 dismissed on that very account; neither is there a single missionary station in Oude, the hotbed of the revolt. The chief fields of missionary effort and success are in the south of India, which is the quietest part of all. The Mahomedans, doubtless, hate as well as fear the advance of Christianity; but the Hindoo has never opposed our preachers. Our missionaries have never met with such treatment in the native bazaars as Wesley and Whitfield did in the market-places of England. It is well known that the ministers of Christianity are generally treated with perfect indifference by the self-righteous Brahmins. They wonder rather at the ignorance of the preacher than dread his success. But the mass of the people can appreciate the self-denial and devotedness of the missionary, and only set themselves against the aggressions of force, or fraud, or law, on their faith. No doubt the bigoted Moslem and even the supine Hindoo saw symptoms of advancing light. Even in the Government schools the pupils might learn that the earth did not rest on a tortoise's back. The railroads, the electric telegraph, the gas, all told of innovation and strange power. The abolition of suttee — of infanticide — of Thuggee — of self-immolation — of Juggernaut abominations — the discontinuance of grants to heathen temples, and of salutes in honour of their idolatrous services — the permission of widows to marry — the preservation of their property to converts — all moral conquests from the strongholds of superstition and injustice and each of itself in the eyes of old Indians sufficient to create a revolution — had gradually been effected; the English, and in several cases the Christian, education of native princes was advancing; our own Queen had welcomed her royal Indian godchildren to her own court; in a word, for the first time since our occupation of India, British civilization was beginning to tell, and the Brahmin and the Moslem might equally see that, unless a blow was now struck, their chance of present power was setting, and their past beyond recovery. It is said that the moolahs had marked a century as the term of English rule; it is certain that the Mussulmans have never let go the hope of regaining their ascendancy, and it is now said that prayers have been regularly and constantly offered up in their mosques for the restoration of the royal house of Delhi. Bishop Heber, in his time, said that if a fair opportunity offered, the Mussulmans would gladly avail themselves of it to rise against us, but more from political than religious feeling.
It must already be evident to the mutineers themselves that they are playing a losing game. While their resources in men, arms, and ammunition are daily diminishing, ours are daily on the increase. The moment the balance turns in our favour the contest will probably be as brief as it is decisive. Those who are familiar with the annals of European warfare have less reason to be apprehensive that the wrong- doers will escape than that the unoffending will fall victims to the indiscriminate fury of a heated soldiery. But British officers we feel convinced will do their utmost to prevent the sword from lighting upon a single guiltless head. They, at least, will not forget in the hour of victory that, though it is a dreadful necessity to punish the criminal, it is a sacred duty to spare the innocent. If, in the din of battle, they could forget that they were Christians, they can never forget the chivalry and humanity which are inherent in the hearts of English gentlemen. To risk their own lives and to save the lives of the unoffending will, we venture to predict, be the double distinction of every commander throughout the whole of the wide Peninsula of India. Until rebellion has been put down and order reestablished, it can be of no advantage to enter upon the great question of the future government of our Eastern dominions. The materials which are to guide the Ministry and the country in their decision are rapidly accumulating. Never before since we established our sway have the people of this country been willing to listen to the evidence, or have cared to arrive at a verdict. Whatever mistakes may be committed before experience has enlightened us upon the best measures to pursue, there will now be a real effort to secure the safety and ameliorate the condition of India, and, roused by a horrible catastrophe, we shall alike endeavour to do our duty to the natives and oblige them to do their duty to us.
Last modified 23 September 2007